Thursday 20 September 2012 by Catherine Baksi

The march of supermarket brands into reserved legal services takes another forward step today with the official launch of Co-operative family law services. The mutual says it is publishing a customer service charter promising 'no nasty surprises' on fees as well as a jargon-free service that treats clients as individuals.

The Co-operative was the first major consumer brand to be granted alternative business structure status in April under changes introduced by the Legal Services Act 2007.

Its family law unit is led by Law Society council member for child care and former TV Edwards partner Christina Blacklaws, with Jenny Beck, also formerly a partner at TV Edwards, as head of professional practice.

The Co-operative will offer a full list of family law services, including divorce, child protection, mediation and financial issues. It has a licence to provide face-to-face legal aid for Westminster and will apply for other licences in the next tender round.

Co-operative Legal Services, set up in 2006, employs around 500 staff, 281 of who are lawyers. A recruitment drive began in June to expand its staff by 3,000 over the next five years.

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